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Trumpets, Horns, and Bach «Abschriften» at the time of Christian Friedrich Penzel: Probing the Pedigree of «BWV» 143

Don Smithers

There can be no doubt as to the authenticity of BWV 143 as a genuine cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. While the originals are lost, there are second and third «generation» copies. This study considers all known facts since the work’s composition in the 18th century and discusses in detail the criteria for judging the authenticity of the work.
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The Verwendungszweck of BWV 143


The earliest extant source of BWV 143, i. e., the Celle source with the inscription ‘Kirchweyh 1762’, has no indication for an intention of propriety (Verwendungszweck); P 459, the source for the BGA (Jg. 30) has no such indication either. On the other hand, the copy from the collection of Franz Hauser, i. e., SBB P 1159XV (see above), has the following inscribed title (first line of text incipit) at the head of the first page of score: ‘No. 145. Cantate Lobe den Herrn meine Seele am Neujahrs Tage di J.S.B.’ That this one source gives the intention of propriety as New Year’s Day may be entirely relevant. The work, least ways with respect to the particular source, may have been performed on that occasion, notwithstanding whatever other intentions for performance.164

Werner Neumann, who does include BWV 143 among Bach’s cantatas for Neujahr / Fest der Beschneidung und Namengebung Christi, adds the comment, ‘Anspielung auf politische Ereignisse der Zeit.’165 This suggestion appears to relate to the commentary and analytical remarks of Philipp Spitta, whose conclusions have been predictably criticized by Georg von Dadelsen (see below).

Yet, in light of the cantata’s use of the chorale, Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ, there is some suspicion that the intended occasion for its performance, particularly in light of the sources that include no intention of propriety, was for a Gottesdienst in supplication for peace. This accords with (1) the previously mentioned categorization and comment in...

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